Erysipelas in Swine

  • Bacterial infection of swine
  • Transmission: aerosol, fomites, secretions
  • Exagerrated by heat of summer
    • Enhances replication
  • Occurs in two forms
    • Acute
    • Chronic

Symptoms of Erysipelas



  • Sudden death
  • High fevers
  • Off feed
  • Lameness
  • Diamond Shaped skin lesions


  • Lameness
  • Swollen joints
  • Endocarditis (infection of heart valves)

Erysipelas: Differential Diagnoses 


  • Actinobacillus suis
  • Salmonella choleraesuis
  • Streptococcus suis, Haemophilus parasuis

Sudden deaths

  • Hemorrhagic bowel syndrome
  • Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae

Skin lesions

  • Porcine Dermatitis and Nephropathy Syndrome
  • Actinobacillus suis 

Diagnosis of Erysipelas

  • Need to do post mortem on pigs
  • See evidence of septicemia with enlarged livers and spleens
  • See classic skin lesions and clinical signs
  • Easy to grow in the laboratory doing a culture and sensitivity

Treatment of Erysipelas

  • Use high doses of penicillin or Ampicillin
  • Mix vaccine with the antibiotic to prevent rebreaks in one to two weeks
  • Use Erysipelas antiserum on pigs showing clinical signs


  • Vaccines are very effective if given prior to the outbreak
  • For best protection give 2 doses after the pigs are 40 pounds
  • This outbreak did not appear to be a different strain of Erysipelas from previous years
    • Same serotypes between farms and as prior outbreaks

Vaccine Usage

Oral vaccines

  • Effective vaccines
  • Easy to administer
  • Producers will often continue to use and adhere to the program
  • Vaccines are more expensive .25 to .45/dose
  • Understand the complications of oral vaccine use
  • Chlorine in the water can deactivate

Injectable vaccines

  • Very effective vaccines
  • Can mix with antibiotics or may be already combined with other antigens
  • Increase likelihood that all pigs will be vaccinated
  • Increase labor to inject pigs
  • Costs less than oral .15 to .20/dose

Vaccine Considerations

  • If vaccine is given to a young pig, immunity will run our prior to slaughter
  • Vaccine adjuvants help increase the effectiveness and length of immunity
  • 2 doses after 40 pounds give best protection
  • Give booster vaccine 2-3 weeks after initial vaccine
  • Sow vaccination provides little protection for the finishing piglet 

Additional Complications of Erysipelas

  • When sows have high fevers they can abort
  • Erysipelas is highly contagious on the same farm
  • High doses of antibiotics are effective but beware of the withdrawal times
  • Need to use extended withdrawal times with high doses of antibiotics
  • Withdrawal of Erysipelas vaccines is 21 days
  • Usually hits heavy hogs ready for market

Should you vaccinate?

  • Erysipelas outbreaks reoccur every 6 to 7 years
  • If you vaccinate you will more likely decrease the negative effects of the disease
  • The cost of the vaccine is minimal
  • Erysipelas is often combined with other antigens to help compliance
  • We strongly recommend producers look at vaccinating for Erysipelas

Erysipelas Summary

  • Many pigs are exposed to Erysipelas
    • There are carrier pigs
  • Severe outbreaks every 6 to 7 years
  • Vaccines are very effective
    • Oral and injectable vaccines
  • Costs are minimal
  • Vaccinate pigs over 40 pounds with at least one dose of Erysipelas vaccine
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